Andrey Arshavin has thanked Arsenal fans and his fellow players via his Twitter account as we near the expiration of his contract with the club and the end of his time in North London.
Despite making 52 appearances in all competitions just 2 years ago, Arshavin was limited to just nine substitute appearances in the Premier League and Champions League during the 2012/13 campaign, as well as two starts in the League Cup.
Arshavin’s fall from grace in the last few years has happened at an outstanding rate. Having been one of the standout performers for Russia at Euro 2008, he became a quickly a crowd favourite at the Emirates after his record-breaking January transfer by scoring all four goals in our 4-4 draw at Anfield in April 2009. However, he seemed to have peaked a little bit too early as his ridiculously poor work-rate and unbelievably inconsistent performances really began to infuriate the fans. There is no doubt that he has (had) the potential to be one of the best players in the Premier League, but what we saw were brief moments of brilliance mixed in with a lot of anonymous performances. To be completely honest, I was surprised when looking it up that he actually made 11 appearances this season, because I don’t remember most of them. His last appearance for the club was all the way back in January, when he played 15 minutes against Chelsea. From what I remember he was actually not that bad.
A lot of articles I have been reading seem to be focusing on the fact that in January 2012 Andrey was booed when he replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Manchester United. However, I would like to defend Arshavin because if I remember correctly the booing was actually directed at the decision to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain because he had been one of our best players, not at the player who was coming on.
As far as I am concerned, Andrey still has the potential for a few more good years playing for one of the big team in Russia, most probably Zenit. He has made it very clear that he misses his home nation and even went back there on loan in the second half of last season. There were actually rumours when he joined Arsenal that he wanted to move back straight away because of a misunderstanding about just how much he would be paying in taxes in the UK, but he stayed in England for 4 and a half years. He joined in January (- or February) 2009 and his contract with the club officially runs out on June 30th.
Arshavin has been linked with a move to Sevilla in recent weeks and is also thought to be considering retirement, but I am sure that a few more years back at Zenit are on the cards. Whatever happens, I wish him good luck and thank him for freeing up another 60-65k of wages for us to use in the summer. Now if we could just get rid of Squillaci, Bendtner, Chamakh, Frimpong, Santos, Denilson and Park and bring in some world-class players then we will have had a pretty good summer. Keep the comments coming and remember to like us on Facebook. We have just hit 4,000 fans!
The Metro have released an image of what is either a prototype Arsenal home shirt for the 2014/15 season made by Adidas, or another good attempt at fooling people with Photoshop.
Last October it was revealed in several newspapers that Arsenal’s kit deal with Nike will expire in 2014 and that the club were in the process of agreeing a £20-25 million-a-year deal to have Adidas as their new kit designers/manufacturers.
Despite suggestions around 2 weeks ago that the deal between Arsenal and Adidas had fallen through, The Metro are reporting that it is all set to go ahead. Granted, The Metro is hardly the most reliable newspaper, but the photo looks pretty genuine. I have also included a few other photos that I found on Twitter.
I do not quite understand why Adidas would have already made a prototype, unless maybe they wanted to show Arsenal some of their kit ideas as part of a pitch before any deal between the two companies was agreed. I am also wondering whether some kit manufacturers are deliberately leaking some of their prototype designs in order to gauge public reaction. This is not the first leaked kit image to emerge this season, and it definitely won’t be the last.
I still can’t quite make my mind up about whether I like the kits designs. Then again, I was opposed to the blue stripes on the sleeves of the current home shirt when it first came out and now I rather like it.
Following our 4-1 win over Reading on the weekend, Arsene Wenger says that he is confident of a top-four finish and securing Champions League football for the 16th consecutive season.
Based on the fixture list for the Premier League run-in, I have to say that I definitely agree. We have arguably the easiest run-in, while Chelsea and Spurs are both still involved in other Cup competitions.
I am aware that Arsenal still have to play Everton and United, but both games are at home and we should be aiming to take maximum points from the other remaining fixtures against West Brom, Norwich, Fulham, QPR, Wigan and Newcastle. Four of these teams are very much in the relegation battle and West Brom, currently in 8th, have had very mixed form since the New Year (W3 D3 L7). In my opinion, the Baggies are only that high up the table because they started the season so well.
Spurs and Chelsea both have a busy run-in. They have mid-week Europa league matches plus Chelsea are now through to the FA Cup semi finals against Manchester City. They could both get further in Europe. While I admit that I would like to see Arsenal progress a bit further next season in the cup competitions, you cannot deny that having a week’s rest between fixtures is a huge benefit (- except for the Everton game which is played on Tuesday). When Rafa Benitez tried to rest some of Chelsea’s key players on Saturday they lost 2-1 away to Southampton.
Whether you agree or disagree with me, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
An international break is normally time for Arsenal fans to worry about which of our key players will pick up an injury that rules them out for several weeks. Unfortunately, the current international break for the World Cup qualifiers has proved to be no different.
Here’s what Roy Hodgson had to say about the Walcott injury in his press conference:
“He immediately felt a slight problem in the pelvic area, went straight off the pitch and had a scan on Friday morning. It showed a slight tear in the pelvic muscle.”
As far as we are aware, Walcott will be out for our game against Reading next weekend. BBC Sport are reporting that Walcott is only out for 10 days, but other websites are saying that it could be 3 weeks. Whatever the outcome, I would like to think that a match at home against a team in the relegation zone that doesn’t even have a manager should be something we can win without Theo. I am sure that he will have a late fitness test, but in my opinion we shouldn’t risk it if he is not fit enough. The good news is that he will definitely be back in time to face Everton and Manchester United.
The rest of the injury news during the international break is pretty good. Jack Wilshere has apparently responded well to the treatment he has been receiving over the past 2 weeks and is ready to resume full training. Our talismanic midfielder could be available to play against Reading next weekend, but the situation is very much similar to that of Walcott. If Wilshere isn’t 100% fit we can play Ramsey (or Diaby or Rosicky). That said, it will be good to have him back.
The last injury to talk about is that of Lukas Podolski. Podolski has missed Arsenal’s last 2 games (vs Bayern & Swansea) with an ankle injury, but played 70 minutes for Germany against Kazakhstan. Lukas started on bench but came on after 20 minutes to replace the injured Julian Draxler. Reports that are so far unconfirmed suggest that Podolski will undergo surgery on his ankle at the end of the season, but that he should be fit enough to continue until then. We will know more about all of the injuries when Arsene Wenger talks in his pre-match press conference on Thursday or Friday.
After two good results against Bayern and Swansea, Arsenal fans have to endure the torture of a two week international break. We are halfway through, and things aren’t looking too bad from a Gooner perspective. Only one fresh injury (which hopefully won’t be more than a few weeks) and three goals from the Gunners.
Although Theo Walcott sustained an injury during training, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain featured for England as the national side toyed with San Marino. It seemed like an extended training session. Games like these certainly make you question the concept that international football is ‘the highest level’ and ‘the greatest honour’ for footballers. I’m sure every professional player wants to represent his country and they definitely want to be involved in the big tournaments which are generally filled with the best teams. But these matches do seem pretty pointless – even more so when you consider that players can sustain injuries which will affect the club which pays their wages.
Theo hasn’t been on fire recently, but he’s still an important piece of our side. Hopefully Chamberlain, buoyed by his goal and all-round lively performance, will step up to the plate. Alternatively Wenger may choose to play Cazorla or Rosicky out on the right, but the former will probably stay central in Wilshere’s absence and the latter has been out of favour for a while. The manager will have some big decisions to make when we face Reading next week.
You can check out the highlights here, with Chamberlain’s goal coming at 0:44 on that video.
Another goal was scored by Olivier Giroud, who partnered Benzema up front as France beat Georgia 3-1. He used his head to score the goal, as we’ve seen a couple of times this season. Like Theo, he hasn’t been scoring much in the last few weeks. We hope that being picked to start and grabbing a goal for France will boost his confidence. I have faith in his ability to do well for Arsenal, but I still don’t believe he’s got the talent to continue as our only striker in the squad. We need a bit of variation, we need some more competition and Giroud isn’t at the same level as many of the attackers that our rivals can utilise.
Ramsey also grabbed a goal, from the penalty spot, as Wales won without Bale scoring a goal for them. Apparently that hasn’t happened for a while. Bale sustained a knock, but it doesn’t look like it will be particularly long-term, which would’ve obviously been a boost for us as his absence weakens our rivals. Ramsey looked lively, albeit against a weak Scotland team. Aaron followed up the goal with a red card as he brought down McArthur after a lazy pass almost gave Scotland the chance to equalise. Arsenal fans may see this as a good thing – Ramsey will miss Wales’ match this week, giving him more time to rest ahead of Arsenal’s remaining fixtures. With Wilshere injured, Ramsey is likely to be called upon more regularly.
If you’re in the UK, you can see Ramsey’s penalty here.
Cazorla got 45 minutes for Spain, and we can only hope he was withdrawn for a reason other than injury. Monreal stayed on the bench for that game. Vermaelen and Rosicky came through their internationals unscathed, and Podolski and Mertesacker played together in Germany’s win over Kazakhstan. Podolski got his 108th cap to become the joint-third most-capped German player, behind Klose and Matthäus, on 126 and 150 respectively.
After our win over Bayern Munich, I felt a blend of conflicting emotions. On the one hand I was happy that the team had gone to Munich and restored some pride with a fantastic 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena. On the other hand, the win counted for nothing. We lost the tie. Champions League over.
Arsenal’s first goal came in only the 3rd minute and gave the away fans just the faintest feeling that something which had seemed so impossible was now achievable. Theo Walcott’s cross was met emphatically by Olivier Giroud, who from then on found it difficult to impose himself in the game.
You felt that ideally we needed another goal before 75-80 minutes in order to have Bayern really worried, but we weren’t able to double our lead until the 86th minute. Laurent Koscielny’s header put us within touching distance of the quarters, but time was not on our side and Bayern made sure that we didn’t get a 3rd.
If we hadn’t played so poorly in the first leg we would probably be in the pot for the quarter/semi-final draw that is taking place this morning, so I guess in that respect we only have ourselves to blame. As Wenger put it in his post-match interview “Qualifying is 180 minutes and in the first 90 we were not at our best”. That said, I can’t help feeling that the away goal rule is stupid. Why is a 2-0 win not has good as a 3-1 win? This requires a much more in-depth analysis to be done on another day. However, I do feel like now is a good time to go on a bit of a rant about our rivals and some of the time-wasting tactics employed towards the end of the game.
After about the 70th minute, the game became very stop/start, with Bayern clearly looking to waste some precious seconds and stop us hitting them on the counter. The referee didn’t exactly help matters by blowing up for every foul and handing out an unnecessary number of yellow cards. Most frustrating of all was that once the board for added time went up Bayern looked to take the ball to the corner, protect it and play for cheap throw-ins. This is not outside the laws of the game, but it does somewhat reduce the game as a spectacle, while also creating increased tension between the fans in the stadium and the players. What I find so outrageous is that it is so blatantly obvious when a player chooses to run straight to the corner to protect the ball rather than being forced into the corner during a normal course of events. Of course, I am writing this from the point of view of a fan who is on the wrong side of the result. I will be the first to admit that when my team is winning all I want is to keep possession.
I was particularly impressed with the defensive performance, especially that of Carl Jenkinson and Lauernt Koscielny, who was started instead of Vermaelen. You look at some of the players in the team who haven’t played that much this season or have been heavily criticised, but they all stepped up on Wednesday night for a well-rounded team performance. You can find our player ratings here.
Leaving Wojciech Szczesny out of the 18-man squad in favour of Lukasz Fabianski is extremely risky and I cannot think of a particularly good reason for this decision. The big question is whether we are going to play with Fabianski, who has not featured at all this season due to injury, or with Mannone, who made 13 appearances at the beginning of the season when Szczesny was sidelined. The only thing I can say for sure is that the decision to leave our No.1 at home will spark a huge amount of speculation about whether we will sign a new keeper in the summer.
The defence pretty much picks itself. Jenkinson continues at right-back in the absence of Sagna, Mertesacker offers a physical presence alongside Vermaelen & Kieran Gibbs has just returned from injury.
In midfield I would definitely play Aaron Ramsey over Abou Diaby. Ramsey took a lot of unfair criticism earlier in the season, but he has proved to be very useful in recent weeks and will slot in nicely next to Mikel Arteta. Wenger may choose to play him on the wing and Rosicky in the centre, but I like Rosicky on the wing. Rosicky has a nice burst of pace to use out wide. Santi Cazorla is an everpresent in the attacking midfield role, with Theo Walcott on the right and Giroud as the target-man.
How do you think the team should line-up? Please live your comments in the section below & like us on Facebook.
So more than a week has gone by without any Arsenal matches. Our Premier League game against Everton was rescheduled because of their FA Cup commitments, so there is a 10-day break between our loss to Spurs and tomorrow’s clash against Bayern Munich.
Bayern on Wednesday, Swansea on Saturday and then another 2 week break for World Cup 2014 qualifiers. So many breaks in the schedule does not really allow Arsenal to build any kind of momentum, but at the same time I wonder whether some of the players need to take a break to reflect on a what has been a very disappointing season so far.
I am positive of a good turnout of away fans in Munich. This is arguably as big a game as we have had in recent seasons, so the atmosphere should be great even if we are not expecting our team to go through. Even if we lose, it is important that the team don’t become despondent. We need to concentrate on ending the season strongly in the league.
As far as we are aware, the only players who will definitely not travel to Munich are Kieran Gibbs (thigh injury) and Nacho Monreal (cup-tied). Bacary Sagna (knee) and Abou Diaby (calf) will face late fitness tests, while Lukasz Podolski has revealed on Twitter that he is also not 100% fit.If I were Arsene Wenger, and of course depending on the severity of Podolski’s injury, I would not take Lukasz to Germany. Qualifying for the next round of the Champions League is at best a long-shot, and I would much rather make sure that Podolski is available for the final 10 games of the Premier League season. It is also being suggested that Jack Wilshere is unavailable after sustaining an injury against Spurs. The Telegraph are reporting that Wilshere has returned to the London after receiving treatment in Dubai, but will not be fit enough to travel with the rest of the squad…
Bayern are without Franck Ribery, who suffered an ankle ligament injury in a 3-2 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf on the weekend. Ribery’s natural replacement, Arjen Robben, is a slight doubt after missing Saturday’s game with a calf problem, but it is thought that he will recover in time. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng are suspended.
Full Arsenal team news will be available shortly after Arsene Wenger’s pre-match press conference. We will able to confirm the details of the 18-man squad and update you on the injuries discussed above. My co-writer is in Munich for the game, so hopefully we will be able to get some good photos for you.
With the big game fast approaching, we want to know whether other Arsenal fans think that there is even a small possibility that we can beat Bayern Munich and progress to the Champions League quarter finals on Wednesday evening.
Most of us are fully aware that this could be our last match in the Champions League for a short while. If we lose to Bayern & don’t finish in the top 4 of the Premier League then it’s goodbye Barcelona and Real Madrid, and hello Metalist Kharkiv and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. This time last year Arsenal scored three first-half goals against AC Milan at the Emirates but could not quite complete an epic comeback from 4-0 down at the San Siro. However, the difference between this year and last year is enormous for a number of reasons.
The first thing to mention is that the current Bayern Munich team are (in my opinion) a better side than AC Milan were last season. Bayern have reached the final in 2 of the last 3 seasons and are running away in the Bundesliga. We also went into last season’s match against Milan in relatively good form and with high spirits, having just beaten Spurs at home and Liverpool away.
You must also not forget that the second leg is in Munich and that the majority of the comebacks in the second leg are done at home. For example, only last season Chelsea overcame a 3-1 deficit to win 5-4 on aggregate against Napoli at Stamford Bridge. However, arguably the biggest difference is that this season we don’t have a match-winner of the quality of Robin van Persie up front. Walcott can be fantastic at times and Cazorla/Podolski are also brilliant, but I am worried that Olivier Giroud has the potential to be rather anonymous. I just don’t see us scoring 3 goals, probably 4 if (when) Bayern get their home goal. I really hope that the team can prove me wrong!
Arsenal.com have revealed the Arsenal starting XI and substitutes for the North London Derby at White Hart Lane that kicks off in about 45 minutes time. The team is pretty much as expected, with Wenger making only one change from the side which beat Villa last week. Aaron Ramsey comes in for Abou Diaby, who does not even have a place on the bench because of a calf injury.